The Best Song In the World: “Secret World”

The best song in the world was written by Peter Gabriel and is the last song on his 1992 album Us. The lyrical theme is about the aftermath of a relationship, with regret mingling with a feeling of resolve and starting over. The “secret world” is defined as that world that exists between two lovers that no other have access to.

I have loved this song for well over 15 years now and I always return to it. At least twice every year it gets stuck in my head for days, keeping me awake at night and refusing to leave me alone. For me the ultimate version is the ’93/’94 live version; the arrangement, the players, the delivery – it is flawless. The 2003 version is good too and has a more satisfying end, but I prefer Manu Katche’s more delicate drumming.

I think PG as a lyricist has been severely overlooked. He has a vocabulary and set of idioms that is all his own  – “you put out and I recieve” – and he is one of the few  songwriters who can bring tears to my eyes. He does the sort of pamphlet/declarative writing very well too: “with no guilt and no shame / no sorrow or blame / whatever it is / we are all the same”. In fact, looking at it now, I realised just how much that particular section of this particular song has influenced my own writing.

Enjoy!

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